If you’re allergic to corn, or are diabetic, stop reading now! It’s about to get awfully corny and sugary sweet around here.
As I close in on my 74th Christmas, I got to thinking about which ones have been the most memorable.
The first Christmas I have any recollection of at all was in 1949 when mom brought home a new baby brother from the hospital. At the time, I would have preferred more presents but, as it turned out, he was an okay gift.
The year I got a ukulele was a wonderful Christmas. My cousin, Cliff, showed me how to tune it (“my dog has fleas” C.G.E.A.) and to play a few chords. I strummed those chords non stop for two days and about drove my family nuts but it turned out to be the beginning of a musical career that continues to this day.
One of the saddest Christmases was in 1963..just a month after President Kennedy was assassinated. On Christmas Eve, one of my uncles insisted on playing a phonograph record he’d just bought of Kennedy’s most memorable speeches with the sound track from “Camelot” playing in the background. It was too much and I went for a long cold walk so others in the house wouldn’t see me cry.
In the late 60’s it was a delight to watch my two little girls experience the joys and wonder of Christmas..only to see it replaced a few years later with sadness and worry as they were left to wonder why their mom and dad had to split up.
Another marriage that began with promise, high hopes, and a few joyful Christmases, ended with a sour separation and divorce. That’s when I vowed never to marry again. I was just no good at it. Then I met Linda..a recently divorced mother of three who lived in my neighborhood. We got to be friends first..sitting for hours at a time drinking wine and talking.
She had pretty much reached the same conclusion as I; that another marriage just wasn’t in the cards. But as our relationship grew, things changed and we began to consider the possibility.. but not until Christy, her youngest who was only 11 at the time, graduated from high school.This went on for over 3 years. It got to the point where all five of our kids were dropping hints about moving this thing along already.
So, in December of 1983 when Linda was off shopping, I cornered Brenda, James and Christy and told them what they already knew; that I loved their mother, would never do anything to hurt her and wanted their blessing to propose marriage. Well, they each started laughing, gave me a hug and said, “It’s about time!” Three down, two to go. Considering all that I’d put them through with two previous failures, I figured my girls, Suzan and Patty, might be a tougher sell. But, as usual, I was wrong.While nervously trying to find the right words and give assurances that this time it would be different, both my daughter’s eyes fill with tears. As the three of us embraced, they said, “Dad, we just want you to be happy. Besides, I think we love Linda about as much as you do.”So the big surprise was set. The seven of us, and grandbaby Tara, would have Christmas Eve dinner at my house..after which I would say “How about some ice for dessert?” At that point, I’d bring out the modest ring, purchased at Vern’s Diamond Shop in the basement of Lewis Drug Store, drop to my knee and ask Linda to marry me. Throughout dinner, I was sure the kids were going to blow it because they kept staring at the both of us and smiling. But the whole thing came off as a total sweet surprise and once Linda saw everyone around the table was in complete agreement and shedding tears of joy, she said “Yes!”
There have been some wonderful Christmases since then as our combined families have continued to grow in size and love. But that night, 36 years ago, with all of us sitting around a candle-lit Holiday table in anticipation of the big question, will always be the happiest and most memorable Christmas of my life.
A more recent photo of Linda, me and “the kids.”
(L to R) Me, Suzan, Linda, Patty, Brenda, James and..in front..Christy.
May God bless you and your family this Holiday season as richly as He has ours!